Last night, I collapsed gently (so as not to slosh) into a bathtub full of hot water, where I sipped a glass of wine and released everything that hurt after a solid day of physical labor. I felt gratitude for the bathtub, warmth on demand and bubbles. I thought about how I would miss them if the currents of life washed me up (again) in a place where running water is nonexistent. Enjoy, relax, enjoy!
Gratitude is not a moral imperative or spiritual good manners. Life is not some stuffy, expectant relative or a parent trying to teach us how to be decent beings. It gives freely and abundantly at all times, even when we think that the Lord hath once again taken away whatever it is we believe we need so much! Gratitude is an immanent upwelling and outflowing of appreciation for whatever is noticed and attended openly in the moment; oddly enough, that sense of grateful love is multiplied endlessly when the realization dawns that it is We who are giving and taking away, arriving and leaving, teaching and learning, while "I am" stands alive and aware in the crossroads.
Or in the case of last evening, sits soaking in a scented bath.
Just an hour or two before, I thought I was not much more than irritated slave labor, late in the garden and overwhelmed with the amount of work waiting for me this year--huge tasks that I must tackle all by myself. I felt emotionally homeless, wading in such a thin stream of imagination. I was shoveling, killing innocent grass, feeling some endless chasm between here and a reason to get up in the morning.
The hopeless leap turned out to be a heartbeat wide, once I relaxed back into the territory of open appreciation, allowing--yes, allowing--the natural flow of gratitude, the easy discernment of something much larger than my individual story to fill up the aching, fearful places in my heart. "Myself" is suddenly timeless, gargantuan, made up of some fire disguised as flesh and blood, desires and dreams, stubborn clumps of turf and juvenile slugs, other people busy with their lives, strange weather patterns, secret poems, and one body, one existence that radiates through spacetime in all directions.
One tiny shift, even as small as a smile between a skin cell and Sister Water, and I remember how much I am loved. Relax, enjoy, relax. :)